Review of Achievement Standards (RAS) - Pilot Phase: Visual Arts

Closed 2 Mar 2020

Opened 2 Mar 2020

Results updated 19 Mar 2020


Thank you to those of you who spent valuable time considering the rationale and matrices and responding to the questionnaire.  The 355 comments and suggestions we received from 123 people between December 2019 and 2 March 2020 were very positive overall.

The sector feedback was overwhelmingly in support of the Big Ideas, opportunities for “21st century teaching and learning”, cross-disciplinary and place-based learning, and could see their current and/or new programmes woven through the Learning Matrix. There was also great support for art programmes that celebrate diversity and empower learners to safely and creatively explore their identity.


The Review of Achievement Standards (RAS) Pilot Phase commenced on 1 October and will finish on 30 April 2020. It builds on the extensive consultation and co-design we conducted with all New Zealanders with an interest in NCEA during 2018 which resulted in the NCEA Change Package. These changes provide the mandate for the direction taken in the RAS. They will result in fewer, larger standards for all subjects, and in Visual Arts, a focus on a broad foundational education at Level 1 – including recognition of mātauranga Māori as an essential aspect of New Zealand education.

Four subjects –Visual Arts, English, Science and Religious Studies - were selected to trial the development process ahead of the full-scale review planned to commence on 1 May 2020. Subject Expert Groups were established to develop new learning and assessment products and supporting resources for these subjects, and this work is being led by the Ministry.

The SEGs developed draft materials which we sought your feedback on and this is a summary of the feedback, with their responses. The feedback and results from the pilot phase will inform the process for all subjects at NCEA Levels 1-3.

Sample Course Outlines

Sample course outlines have been produced to help teachers and schools understand the new NCEA Learning and Assessment Matrices. We have two examples of how a year-long Visual Arts course could be constructed using the new Learning and Assessment Matrices. They are indicative only and do not mandate any particular approach.

Sector feedback focussed on four main themes. These are addressed below.

Theme 1

Concerns about credit weighting, especially of external assessments.


The equal credit weighting across the four standards reflects the view that within the curriculum every aspect of the creative process is valued equally. The intention is to redress the over-emphasis on finished products seen in current assessment. While finished products will still be valued in assessment, so too will creative development and experimentation. The detail of what this will look like in assessment will be made clear by the assessment materials and sample course outlines.

Theme 2

The need for professional development.


The Ministry is currently planning professional development for the sector which will be finalised and published for sector information. Teaching, learning and assessment support resources, including exemplars, will be developed as part of the review. These will retain aspects of current best practice as well as encouraging innovative approaches to meet the needs of diverse learners.

Sample Course Outlines have been provided (see link below) to show how knowledge and content can be woven throughout the year in a variety of contexts. These will also illustrate SEG thinking and illustrate the content, scope and logistics of collecting assessment evidence/material. The Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Guide (TLAG) currently under development, will also unpack content ideas and suggestions for sequencing concepts and the sample assessment tasks.

Theme 3

Some of the Big Ideas are above level six of The New Zealand Curriculum.


The Big Ideas are drawn from The New Zealand Curriculum Visual Arts essence statement. The SEG mapped the Big Ideas they identified as critical for NCEA Level 1, taking into account NCEA Levels 2 and 3 (NZC Levels 7 and 8) learning, to ensure there is appropriate progression through curriculum levels 6-8.  This is a positive change resulting in a set of curriculum-driven achievement standards that provide learning opportunities for students studying Visual Arts. The Big Ideas encompass all curriculum levels and allow students to engage with them from the level they are at.

Theme 4

Lack of clarity on the content and details of assessment.


The SEG is currently refining the achievement standards as well as creating supporting material that will provide further explanation and detail. Draft course outlines and assessment briefs and activities will provide much greater clarity on what will be required of learners and how this could look in the classroom.



These FAQs will be updated as questions arise.